Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Defending Thailand

This little article on Thailand brought me to my limit of anti-Thailand propaganda. Unfortunately, this John Karr character was caught in Bangkok. Strictly a coincidence since he had also lived in various other countries before this. So now everyone is reminded of Thailand, the land of no morals, Thailand, the land of pedophilia, Thailand, the land of ping pong shooting strippers.

Well, this is a part of the country but it's far from the whole story. I haven't traveled to a ton of places in my life, but Thailand is far and away the best country I've traveled to. It's beautiful. The people are absolutely wonderful. It's incredibly relaxed. There is a wide variety of landscapes to hang out in. It's even fairly multicultural, with Buddhist Thais, but also large populations of Chinese, hill peoples, and a Muslim-dominated south. And this doesn't even take the food into account.

Sure, Thailand has problems. Yes, prostitution is a major issue there, though generally prostitutes aren't scorned by general society as they are here and that's a good thing. Yes, Germans come there for their pedophilia and that's profoundly fucked up. But before we start promoting the image of Thailand as a place of lawlessness and danger, let's remember that it's white people who are doing most of these things. Thai men certainly are large customers of prostitution, but it was US soldiers during the Cold War who helped make this such a big part of Thai society. It's Germans, Belgians, and Dutch men, among others, who use Thailand to rape children. The police are corrupt but a) that's not any different than the rest of Asia and b) this is at least partly the result of US attitudes during the Cold War that allowed repression anywhere so long it was in the name of anti-communism. Is it the Thais fault that they are so relaxed? Should they be like the US, like Germany, like Australia instead?

It's fine to exam the problems of Thai society but can we please keep it in perspective?